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121213Khobragade4shIn a tough reciprocal action, India on Tuesday downgraded the immunity of certain category of US diplomats and withdrew the immunity enjoyed by their family members, in a fallout of the arrest of its senior diplomat in New York.

With this move, India has sought to show that it is serious about ensuring reciprocal consular privileges, with all US consular identity cards issued so far “withdrawn”, even as it was reiterated that security for US diplomatic officials has not been downgraded — despite the removal of traffic barriers.

The reiteration about implementation of reciprocal steps came after speculation that India may have softened its stance on consular privileges, which were put in place after the arrest of Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade. “India has decided to take firm reciprocal steps following the end of the deadline for surrender of identity cards provided to US consular staff in India,” said official sources.

It means that India did not accept the US request for extension of the Monday deadline and consequently, all identity cards given to consular officials don’t have any validity. “New cards, which are replicas provided to Indian Consulate officials in the US, are being given in lieu of the withdrawn cards,” said an official source.

The US had lobbied for an extension of the deadline, stating that several of its officials were not in station as it was the holiday season.

The new cards will be stamped with a message clarifying that consular officials will have only limited immunity as granted to Indian consular officials in the US. The US had claimed that Khobragade was not immune to arrest, since she was only covered under consular immunity.

India Express

Photo: Devyani Khobragade has been busted by the feds after allegedly mistreating her female nanny. In an April interview with The Indian Panorama, a weekly Manhattan-based newspaper, Khobragade claimed that she’s a strong advocate for “underprivileged” women’s rights.

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